Chapter 3 – Processes
48. It was apparent that there is a lot of important work being carried out to engage with communities throughout the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. As described earlier the Community Engagement Planners act as a plan of action for staff to follow and the Equality Action Plan sets criteria relating to engaging with diverse communities. However, certain aspects of the process in achieving these plans are not clear.
49. Standards help to ensure that consistent approaches and styles are applied and that there is an accepted framework to follow. We were advised that there are no specific standards for community engagement in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
50. There are, however, detailed 'customer focus' and 'effective communication' competencies specified in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Competency Framework (see Appendix 1 for more details). These describe ranges of behaviours expected of staff at all grades and levels and provide guidance on the levels of skills and behaviours expected throughout the appraisal year. There is an e-learning course relating to these competences that all staff can access.
51. The 'customer focus' competency covers behaviours from respecting customers and understanding their needs to making informed recommendations to modify or improve delivery of policy. The 'effective communication' competency covers behaviours from communicating clearly and avoiding use of unnecessary jargon to promoting cross cultural communications with the communities it serves and communicating in a way that inspires all colleagues. These competencies should be linked to objectives and performance can be assessed against them during the appraisal period.
52. In May 2005 the Scottish Government launched National Standards for Community Engagement 13. The standards were developed with the involvement of over 500 people from communities and agencies through out Scotland. They are widely used in many areas of government eg Local Authorities, National Health Service ( NHS), Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland ( ACPOS) and the voluntary sector. They have been recommended by Audit Scotland as good practice and a good resource but are not compulsory. In fact in their review of the impact of these standards in the Regeneration process in 2008, Audit Scotland found that the standards 'contributed to a culture change in how community engagement is perceived'.
53. The principles and standards are reproduced at Appendix 2. The standards in brief are:
- Working Together
- Sharing Information
- Working With Others
- Monitoring and Evaluation
54. These standards help organisations have a structured approach to ensuring that public concerns or priorities are heard and taken account of in the planning and delivery of services. They also provide a framework for communities to assess their experiences against.
That Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service adopts in some form the Scottish Government standards for Community Engagement as a model of good practice. This should be made known to staff and the public and a process introduced to assess whether standards are met.
55. We were advised that there is no specific guidance for staff on the processes relating to engaging with communities, however, we found that in relation to 'Diversity' there is an Area Diversity Guidance Pack. This provides suggestions and advice including:
- planning events
- suggestions of things to do
- ideas for inclusion in speeches/talks
- samples of commonly asked questions with suggested answers
- what to do with school work experience pupils
- diversity issues
- budget advice, etc
56. There was a suggestion that staff may not be familiar with this guidance. The pack was set up in 2003 when the Diversity Strategy was being established and we consider this to be a good resource with examples of sound advice, however, it does require to be updated.
57. Other Government Departments 14 have established guidance and toolkits relating to efficient and effective community engagement including practical ways to engage with your community and some methods and techniques on how to engage communities as reproduced in Appendix 3. These can be adapted to particular situations to aid consultation and participation. It may therefore be beneficial to examine these with a view to inclusion in some formal guidance pack.
58. We acknowledge that given the geographical spread of the organisation especially for those Fiscal Areas that cover far reaching places eg Highlands and Islands and the current demographics of each Fiscal Area, there may not be the opportunity to engage with certain types of communities or it may be difficult to reach certain places therefore different approaches may apply. This should be taken account of in any guidance that is created.
That guidance relating to Community Engagement is created. This could incorporate a revised Area Diversity Pack. It would be of benefit to include in this guidance links to the Scottish Government National Standards on Community Engagement and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Competency Framework (particularly the competencies relating to 'Customer Focus' and 'Effective Communication') and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service 'Accessibility Policy'.
Monitoring achievement of objectives:
59. Indicator 1 relating to Monitoring and Evaluation from the Scottish Government standards of Community Engagement states that:
- The engagement process and its effects are continually evaluated to measure progress, develop skills and refine practices
60. The Portfolio Owner for Community Engagement is responsible for monitoring achievement of the community engagement strategy. The Portfolio Owner indicated that reports are occasionally given to the Area Fiscals Group. This group meets quarterly. Reports may also be put to the Management Board 15 which meets on a monthly basis. The Inspectorate reviewed Area Fiscal Group minutes from 05/05/10 to 01/09/10 but none had mention of any matters relating to community engagement. Similarly there was no mention either in Management Board minutes 16 reviewed. We were advised by the Portfolio Owner that further work has still to be done to establish this responsibility (see recommendation at Chapter 1) although we note that there is already a lot of this work already covered in the six monthly equality reports.
61. In order to determine whether community engagement commitments and objectives are being met we carried out a review 17 of the Community Engagement Planners. The findings showed that some of the Fiscal Areas appear to have done more work in relation to engaging communities than others. The main findings are as follows:
- Some Fiscal Areas detailed very good evidence of activity carried out with details of dates, groups seen and on occasion whether it was thought to be successful
- Four of the 11 Fiscal Areas provided only brief details for some of the activity
- Two Fiscal Areas didn't show activity for some of the objectives 18
- Two Fiscal Areas had not completed the Planner for 2010/11
- Three Fiscal Areas had not completed the media planner 19 although all three did mention media coverage in their Community Engagement Planners
62. Examples of activity described in the Community Engagement Planners include:
- Meetings with a variety of minority groups
- Contact with Schools, Colleges, Universities, Youth Clubs, Scouts/Guides groups
- Attendance at career fairs
- Participation in Mini Trials events/Court open days/workshops
- Involvement in enterprise initiatives for secondary pupils
- Involvement in projects targeted at specific groups eg New Horizons Project - aimed at 12 years olds; Operation Youth Advantage aimed at 15 -17 years olds; Stay Safe Project aimed at older people; Choices for Life - targeted at primary 7 pupils; Do the Right Thing aimed at Secondary school children and covers Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences; Another Way Project - aimed at drug users and street sex workers; Galloway Boy Racers Initiative - aimed at young drivers
- Contact with Women's Centres eg Women's Aid, Rape Crisis
- Liaison with groups relating to deaths eg People Experiencing Trauma and Loss ( PETAL)
- Manning information stands in shopping centres
- Participation in monitoring pilot of work order programmes
- Involvement in large events such as Highlands R Us with local councils, police, NHS, etc - its aim was to take stock of positive aspects of the diverse community and included workshops, seminars, information stalls and activities such music, dancing, stage acts, etc
- Sponsoring eg competitions for art work, youth challenges eg Global Rock Challenge, etc
- Supporting charity events through fundraising 20
- Attendance at community planning events/forums and representation on Community Safety Partnerships and Community Safety Co-ordinating Groups, Community Advisory Groups
- Speaking at or attending conferences eg Hate Crime; Violence Against Women
- Liaison and co-ordinated work with criminal justice partners in targeting particular problems eg drugs and drugs deaths, antisocial behaviour, housebreaking, disorder, child protection, repeat offenders programmes, etc
- Involvement in multi agency groups eg Multi Agency Discriminatory Incident Monitoring Group ( MADIM), Racist Attacks and Harassment Multi Agency Strategy ( RAHMAS), Multi Agency Racial Incident Monitoring ( MARIM), Grampian Racial Equality Council ( GREC), Hate Crime Operational Groups, Anti-social Behaviour Groups
- Involvement in community strategic responses eg Critical Services Oversight Group
- Staff study visits to places of worship or resource centres 21 to increase understanding of community issues
- Giving talks on role of the Procurator Fiscal to various groups and institutions eg elderly, women's groups, minority groups, refugee centres, church guilds, neighbourhood watch, Scouts, hospitals and general practitioners
- Presentations to groups on a variety of subjects eg knife crime, wildlife crime
- Correspondence with MSPs
- Work placements
- Invitations for representatives of groups (eg religion, race, disability, mental health) to address staff at training to raise awareness eg on Diversity Awareness training and own local Diversity events
- Input to training of Police Officers, Justice of the Peace, etc
- Participation in multi agency biannual consultation exercise
- Press releases and liaison with representatives from the press
- Radio interviews
63. This list is not exhaustive, there are details in the planners of many more activities that have taken place. All of the above are examples of good practice.
64. We also were given examples of Law Officers attending events and speaking at conferences, eg the Solicitor General attended a 'Stonewall' event run by the Royal Bank of Scotland where he liaised with leaders of communities and he also co-hosted a conference on Hate Crime where there were over 140 delegates from a range of organisations.
65. Further to this there were many examples given to us in connection with work relating to the WSREC contract covering the four Strathclyde Fiscal Areas (some of which are included in the above list).
66. We did not have the resources in this review to inquire further for the two Fiscal Areas that had not completed the Planner for 2010/11. However, further evidence of activity was brought to our attention. It is therefore important that all activity in respect of community engagement is detailed so that credit can be given for work done. There is a requirement to ensure that all Community Engagement work is fully captured in Community Engagement Planners. Linking this to media coverage demonstrates to the public that Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service are interested and want to address concerns and priorities. It also increases awareness of the work of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
That staff should be reminded to complete Community Engagement and Media Planners (if their use continues) on a regular basis and a system of formally monitoring activity including a measurement of success/benefits should be introduced and maintained.
67. With regard to the Equality Action Plan we note that there is a more established process in place. The following diagram shows the work flow in relation to this:
68. Achievement of the Equality Action Plan is monitored by Crown Office Policy Division's Diversity Team. All 11 Fiscal Areas (through the Area Diversity Teams) are required to provide a six monthly report describing the work carried out to address the requirements of the plan.
69. Copies of reports from nine Fiscal Areas were provided for review and the reports are available on the intranet under 'Area Information' in the Diversity Guidance. We were advised that as a result of monitoring it was discovered that there is little contact with gender groups. Action will be taken to address this. See Chapter 7 - 'Results of Our Focus Groups'.
70. We were further advised that as a result of monitoring it became apparent at the Equality and Diversity Strategic Group that there was a gap between policy and practice and as a result the Equality and Diversity Strategy Working Group was set up to develop strategy and roll it out across the Service. There are representatives from the three federations 24 and it is chaired by the 'Diversity' Portfolio Owner. Part of the agenda relates to reports by Area Diversity Teams which are reviewed at the meetings.
71. We reviewed a sample of papers from Area Diversity Team Reports. In relation to community engagement these showed details similar to those in the Community Engagement Planners.
72. We are satisfied that in respect of the engaging with 'diverse' communities adequate monitoring is taking place. There may, however, be an overlap/duplication of work in relation to this between Policy Division and the Community Engagement Portfolio Owner as described in Chapter 1.
73. As described above, Community Engagement Planners are available for staff to record activity relating to community engagement. From this the Portfolio Owner can monitor what is being done, who is doing it and when it is being done but it currently does not allow for recording outcomes or lessons learned.
74. In 2007 as a result of the introduction of the National Standards in Community Engagement, the Scottish Government commissioned the Scottish Community Development Centre ( SCDC) to develop a database toolkit for planning, monitoring and evaluating community engagement.
75. A software package called VOiCE25 (Visioning Outcome in Community Engagement) was developed and allows users (whether individuals, organisations or partnerships) to apply a standard system to analyse, plan, monitor, evaluate and record their community engagement. It invites you to address questions under each of the headings and assists in the identification of the appropriate level of engagement but does not prescribe particular methods. According to the literature it can support you to:
- Reflect on what you are trying to achieve
- Develop plans that relate to your purpose
- Monitor progress in implementing your plan
- Evaluate the process and outcomes
- Learn lessons for future activity
76. We consider that the current procedure in place in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service does not yet meet all the points above. It may therefore be of benefit to look at this package with a view to considering whether there are benefits in its use to help formalise the community engagement process particularly in relation to monitoring and evaluating outcomes.
77. VOiCE literature makes reference to other resources such as the 'people and participation' website. This website 'helps people who work in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors and who need to involve a wider group of people in their work'. The site 'provides information, advice, case studies and opportunities to share experiences with others' 26. It also describes different methods of participation.
That Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service consider whether it would be of benefit to the organisation in using the VOiCE software package to help plan, monitor, evaluate and record their community engagement.
Co-ordination and Sharing Best Practice:
78. In relation to the community engagement strategy, practice can be shared through access to the 'Community Engagement Planners'. Staff can see what has been done in other Fiscal Areas and if need be can make contact with them to ask for details.
79. In relation to engaging with 'diverse' communities (as described in the Equality Action Plan) there is sharing of best practice through:
- Circulation of summary diversity reports to all Fiscal Areas
- Area Diversity Reports on intranet pages 27
- Area Fiscals Group meetings where summary diversity reports are considered
- Area Diversity Training Weeks/Days
- Liaison between staff appointed as responsible for certain categories 28 of diversity
80. We noted that 8 from 11 Fiscal Areas did not have details of engagements or practice in their own intranet diversity pages as they were under construction at the time of the review. However, we found the latest Diversity Reports 29 for 9 out of 11 Fiscal Areas on the 'Diversity Guidance' link under 'Area Information'.
81. Sharing also takes place between the four Strathclyde Fiscal Areas as part of the WSREC contract 30. The Diversity Advisor from WSREC and the Strathclyde Diversity Co-ordinator attend the Equality and Diversity Strategic Working Group meetings and discuss what has been delivered. There is also a contacts list, established as part of the contract, on the intranet to which all staff have access.
82. The Policy Division's Diversity Team are on hand to provide advice on links that can be made with communities.
83. Information can also be shared through connections to other work eg Domestic Abuse, Sexual Offences, etc from other portfolio owners in matters of common interest. In this instance contacts with specific groups and work ongoing can be shared.
84. Although there is co-ordination of practice as described above, we note that when delivering talks etc, eg relating to the role of the Procurator Fiscal, or relating to specific notes of interest eg serious crime, staff may create their own presentations. As a result there may be duplication of effort if one already exists. We consider that it would be beneficial to further develop the central repository of standard presentations which can be modified to meet local circumstances and managed in a way that the same message is communicated.
85. Similarly we note that there are different lists of contacts. There are those retained by the Fiscal Area, those by Strathclyde Diversity Co-ordinator (for the four Strathclyde Fiscal Areas only) and also a suggested contacts lists on the Diversity pages of the intranet under 'Diversity Contacts Data Bank'. We found that those retained by the Fiscal Area were not always up to date as we had a bit of difficulty obtaining contact names and addresses during our review.
That the existing central repository of standard presentations should be further developed and also that a main list of contacts is established and maintained.
Use of Media
86. Making use of the media is vital to getting information across to the public and communities and is a means by which organisations can provide evidence of work done to address concerns. It allows for details of new initiatives, current work, statistics, etc to be made available. Information can include impact of new practices eg work orders, fiscal fines or it can provide information about events taking place eg diversity weeks or details of results of targeted areas such as street drinking and knife crime or of high profile cases such as murders.
87. Examples of the type of communications found in the Community Engagement Planners include:
- Set up of new units eg Ultimus Haeres, Domestic Abuse Unit, Health and Safety Units
- Joint press release with partners (eg Police) on operations to tackle particular problems
- Specific statistics eg knife crime
- New policy and procedures eg Summary Justice Reforms
- Prosecution results eg convictions in proceeds of crime, drug trafficking, murders
- Certain campaigns eg Christmas drink driving
- Responses to articles in newspapers
- Proactive work eg training to help reduce drug related deaths
88. There was also evidence of staff attending radio interviews and attending media events along with examples of regular meetings with editors of local papers.
89. Results of our focus groups showed that it was felt there could be better provision of information relating to outcomes and achievements and that these could easily be included in leaflets, community papers, website, etc. It also showed that people felt the Fiscal should be proactive in providing reasons for decisions particularly where charges have been dropped. This issue will be addressed in our ongoing Victims Thematic.
90. As detailed earlier a review of media planners showed that three Fiscal Areas did not detail media communications although when this was checked against the corresponding Community Engagement Planners there was evidence that there had been communications. Making use of media is an easy way to get messages across, therefore, we consider it important to exploit opportunities in this respect. Providing feedback to communities demonstrates to the public that the organisation is responding effectively to their needs.
That consideration is always given to getting messages across to the public through the media where it is thought to be appropriate and there may be opportunities to be had in liaising with Councils to place articles such as outcomes and achievements in local community newsletters.
91. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service website provides information to the public on a variety of matters and is another method of engaging with the communities. There are welcome messages in different languages with links to further information.
92. The website provides information on:
- The role of the Procurator Fiscal
- Investigation of deaths
- Parliamentary questions
- Latest information eg implications of rulings for example HMA V Cadder 31
- Hot topics eg review of sexual offences
- Links to publications
- Information for witnesses and victims, and
- Links to vacancies
93. There may also be advantages in looking into use of technology for example information network sites such as Twitter 32. Many people especially the young use this type of medium and it would provide for a quick and easy way to make contact, provide information and obtain feedback from the public. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service currently do not use this form of communication. However, many other government departments already provide this facility (eg the Scottish Government use Twitter, YouTube, Podcast and Flickr 33 and the Crown Prosecution Service use Twitter and blogs). Some also make use of on-line pop-up surveys as people access the intranet site.
94. Results of our focus group showed a general consensus that the public are not very familiar with the work of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and where it fits into the legal process. This is especially so for those with different cultural backgrounds. The main point of contact tends to be with the police. We noted in all focus groups that people find the language used (eg jargon, terminology) to be difficult and one person suggested it can be 'intimidating' (see Chapter 7). Members of the focus groups indicated that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service could promote itself better and explain its role in the legal system through better use of communications eg technology, community papers, etc and also through practical ways such as providing mock courts to anyone and not just children.
95. Introduction of social media would need careful consideration of the benefits and clear strategies put in place to minimise risk and ensure best use is made of its potential (See also Recommendation 9 in Chapter 4). However, it does promote openness and transparency.
That consideration is given to introducing social networking as a medium to help improve making contact, providing information and obtaining feedback from the public and also in promoting the work of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
96. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service launched its revised Customer Feedback Policy on 1 November 2010. This was a result of a project relating to complaints handling and its aim is to address issues identified relating to lack of staff awareness and use of the process and to capture not only complaints and concerns but also compliments.
97. Feedback can be provided through telephone calls, letters or the 'Complaints' or 'Have Your Say' links both of which can be easily accessed by the public on the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service website. There are specific targets that have to be met and responsibilities have been established to derive analyses and feed back to the Management Board on 'Lessons Learned and Delivering a Better Service'. However, we were advised that this process is still in its infancy and no results are available yet.
98. We consider that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service make real efforts to engage with communities and the general public, however, some Fiscal Areas appear to do more in this respect. This may be a result of not recording all activity. We do acknowledge that the geographical spread of the organisation and the current demographics of each Fiscal Area will effect how practice is carried out.
99. Overall it is our opinion that with minor changes to processes and the introduction of new methods a 'Customer Focus' approach to service delivery will be maintained which will help ensure that the specific objectives of the community engagement strategy and those in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Strategic Plan 2009/12 will be achieved.